FRESH from their unconscionable expenditure on bulletproof vehicles, Nigeria’s federal lawmakers pulled off yet another scandal recently, jacking up their budgetary allocation by 74.23 percent. According to reports, the N197 billion budget which the Parliament awarded itself is higher than the combined budgets of 25 federal universities. With President Bola Tinubu’s first money bill submitted to the National Assembly having been a supplementary appropriation bill in July last year which reportedly contained a whopping N70 billion allocation meant to enable the lawmakers “settle in,” this is apparently a great time to be a lawmaker. Money is not projected to be an issue, except for the criminally governed, long-suffering populace trapped in appalling socioeconomic conditions. The N344.85bn 2024 allocation is the highest-ever provision for the National Assembly whose initial allocation in the 2024 budget proposal presented by President Tinubu was N197.93bn.

It was N27.5tn that the executive presented to the National Assembly as the entire 2024 Appropriation Bill, but the legislature increased it by N1.2tn, taking the approved bill to N28.77tn. Happily, though, the parliament also raised funding to the National Judicial Council, Niger-Delta Development Commission, Universal Basic Education Commission, National Assembly, Public Complaints Commission, Independent National Electoral Commission, National Human Rights Commission, North-East Development Commission, Basic Health Care Provision Fund, and National Agency for Science And Engineering Infrastructure) from N1.38tn to N1.74tn.

It is almost as if the National Assembly now combines the functions of the executive regarding appropriation. The nation, facing a cost of living crisis, must now spend more on the few individuals legislating on their behalf. It is not fortuitous that with over 133 million Nigerians experiencing multidimensional poverty, the 469 lawmakers got over N100 billion worth of luxury cars, and now the parliament has plush budgetary provisions to tide it over till the next budget cycle. The fact is certainly not contested that when Nigerians look at the legislature, what they see is a catalogue of controversies, profligacy, insensitivity and inefficiency. Nothing typifies the irresponsibility and utter insensitivity of the present rulers of the country more than the incestuous increase of the budgetary allocations of the National Assembly by more than 70 percent. The hefty budget is coming at a time when the government and the legislators are busy telling Nigerians about the onset of hard times and the need to be prepared to make sacrifices. It is very clear now who really is meant to make those sacrifices!

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What kind of sacrifices are the members of the National Assembly making by increasing their own budgetary allocation, gorging themselves on public resources? And these are supposed to be the direct representatives of the people, who should help to oversee and checkmate the excesses of the executive arm of government! We do not see how the legislators and the entire government membership can justify the level of outrageous expenditure they continue to make on themselves from the collective resources while not being bothered by the growing penury they are imposing on the people by and through their debilitating actions in government. This is certainly not the road the country should be taking with almost all its entire earnings already being committed to debt servicing.

It is scandalous that those in government behave as if the resources of the country are solely meant for themselves and their family members, always cooing about the facilities that should be provided for their comfort even when they are not providing any facility for the use of the people. We do not see how rulers want to sustain such flagrant disregard for the interests of the ruled and assume that all will be well. We hope that those in government will realise that serving the collective interests is ultimately the best way of serving personal interests, such that they will cease to focus only on personal interests at the expense of general interests. Government exists for the whole society and those who choose to be part of government ought to know that their ultimate goal should be to serve and protect the collective interests of the society.

Continuing with the present trend of attending only to personal interests when in government can only lead to certain doom.

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